Meeting Report – June 2013

The big exciting news this month is that FONC’s idea and proposal for a Heritage Gateway is very near to becoming a reality as part of the official plan for Northampton’s future.

Marie commenced the meeting with a warm welcome to our new member Lizzie.

Heritage Gateway
Marie said that we should all congratulate ourselves as the Northampton County Council (NCC) Cabinet Paper outlines a proposal for a heritage gateway that mirrors the proposal that Ellen put together on our group’s behalf at the beginning of 2012. There was a spontaneous round of applause. A copy of Focus Consultants report to NCC, Northampton Heritage Gateway – an Executive Summary PDF is available here.

Marie had been invited to attend both the NCC and Northampton Borough Council meetings on the proposal this month. Everything looked and sounded positive. Work on the Heritage Gateway would link in with the redevelopment of the railway station; hopefully, with the first phase starting very soon.

Lyn was concerned about there being no provision for car-parking near the Castle Hill Church in the plans. Marie reassured her that the whole concept was a five year plan and that local concerns such as parking would be provided for when that area of the development was finalised.

Railway redevelopment
The meeting was addressed by Paul who had kindly taken the time to come along to put forward his idea for celebrating the castle heritage in the redevelopment of the station. Given the vast amount of original stone from the castle languishing in the town museum’s basement, Paul suggested that a model of the castle should be carved out of the stone and displayed on the new station concourse for people to see.

Marie, as chair, thanked Paul for his suggestion; which would be put forward for consideration along with other possible ideas for ensuring the castle is recognised in the station redevelopment.

It was remarked that WNDC had erected an information panel at the station. This was welcomed by the meeting. Marie had been trying in vain to contact Tim Upson Smith for an update on the station dig and also regarding the Big Dig. Philip said that he would have an opportunity to speak to him and would do so. It was suggested that perhaps another visit to the site could be arranged. However, it was commented that the dig there would soon be ending if not already.

Events Diary 2013 update

  • Spring Boroughs Residents Association Saturday 15th June
  • Big Dig Introduction Day: Saturday 13th July, Finds Days: Saturday 3rd & 10th August
  • Umbrella Fair Weekend 17th/ 18th August
  • National Heritage Weekend Thursday 12th September to Sunday 15th September

FONC will be conducting a daily guided tour of the Castle Heritage site; commencing from St. Peter’s church at noon on each day.

Heritage Fair Saturday 14th September 10am – 4pm
Member volunteers to help man these events are still needed, ‘many hands, less work’, and help with transportation of display boards and possibly tables and chairs to some events is also required.

Delapre Abbey – post event review
Being the first event of the year in which FONC had a promotional stand, there was general agreement that it had been well received. Gerald Porter’s murals had added extra colour and depth. Being able to spread out to an extra table on the second day had attracted more visitors to our pitch. The balloons had been popular with the children. FONC had been made very welcome by the Friends of Delapre Abbey and received thoughtful assistance and hospitality. The event had also provided an opportunity to network with other heritage groups.

A children’s activity table at the event had inspired Sanaa to produce a double sided jigsaw using stills from the 3D images of the castle which he showed to the meeting. Everyone admired his handiwork and thought that it was a very good way for engaging children at future events. It was agreed that it should be trialled at the forthcoming Spring Boroughs event to assess durability and reception.

Spring Boroughs Residents Association (SBRA)Event
Joe gave final details for this event being held on Saturday 15th June. It would start at noon and run until 4pm. There would be around twenty stalls including FONC’s stall situated on the pocket park area. Attractions planned included bands; bouncy castle; world cuisine stalls reflecting the ethnic communities in the area; and cream teas and barbeque served by the Castle Hill Church. The Mayor and local MP would attend.

Lyn requested that Gerald Porter’s murals be moved back to the Castle Hill church from St. Peter’s for the event. Although the church had been the home of the murals during the production stage, local residents had not had an opportunity to view the finished work.

Jon would have Big Dig posters and leaflets printed in time for display at the SBRA event.

Big Dig
It was announced that the information Day on the 13th July at St. Peter’s church would commence at 2pm. Depending on demand, a tour of the Castle Heritage Project Trail may also take place after the briefing talk.

National Heritage Weekend
As agreed at the last meeting, Marie had committed FONC to conducting a daily Castle Heritage Project Trail tour during national Heritage Weekend this year. The time for this daily tour was set as commencing at noon. The starting point would be St. Peter’s church and would finish at the Holy Sepulchre church. Who should be conducting each tour would need to be confirmed. Julia would contact the Holy Sepulchre church to see whether the guides there would be willing to continue the tour around the church; as they did last year.

Following last month’s talk at our meeting by Graham Callister, the Cultural Policy and Planning Officer at Northants County Council, on potential funding agencies for events and projects Marie had circulated a paper on ideas for funding. She asked the meeting to recognise and not miss the opportunity for attracting funds for the 2014 events. In particular, she proposed an event around St Peters and the Castle site to include something similar to the SHINE project, involving light and sound, of the Thomas Becket Trail. This could become a periodic event; for example ‘Simon de Montfort’s students’; ‘Through the postern gate’; and/or transforming the facade of Castle House. Other items on the list would need to be brokered with the Heritage Team, whose inaugural meeting would be on 25th June, so as not to be in competition for funding. Marie was given the mandate to talk with others to ascertain what proposals would involve bidding by FONC.

St Peter’s Church
As the newly appointed Chairman of Friends of St. Peter’s, John gave an outline for plans for the coming year. It was hoped to refurbish the war memorial in time for the 2014 commemorations. A distinguished speaker was being sought to deliver a lecture on Church and Society as part of the Thomas Becket anniversary celebrations next year. He also hoped to revive the medieval folk club.

Old Black Lion Pub
Jon informed the meeting that the planned reopening of the OBL was scheduled for a VIP opening on the 19th June. He had been commissioned by the new owner to put together pictures of the castle, St. Peter’s church and the OBL for display in the refurbished pub. Jon also conveyed to the meeting the owner’s invitation for FONC to resume using the OBL as a venue for its monthly meeting.

Date and Venue of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held at 6pm on Friday 12th July. The venue for this meeting will be at the Old Black Lion Pub.

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